Perfect Picture Book Friday – Diva Delores And The Opera House Mouse PLUS 5 Fun Facts From The Author AND A Giveaway!

Hurray!  It’s Perfect Picture Book Friday, and boy do I have a treat for you today!

It’s Diva Delores’s debut!


Isn’t she gorgeous?! 🙂

You’re going to get to see this beautiful book AND hear from the author AND the publisher is generously doing a giveaway, so one lucky commenter from the US or Canada will be chosen at random to receive a copy of the book!

Let’s jump right in, shall we?

First, a look at the book!


Title: Diva Delores And The Opera House Mouse

Written By: Laura Sassi

Illustrated By: Rebecca Gerlings

Sterling Children’s Books, March 2018, nonfiction

Suitable For Ages: 4-8

Themes/Topics: friendship, manners, opera

Opening: “Fernando loved chocolate
and cheese on dry toast,
and popcorn and gumdrops,
but what he liked most . . .

was feasting on Mozart,
Puccini, and Strauss,
and lending a paw
at the Old Opera House.

Brief Synopsis: Fernando the mouse loves everything about opera.  He wants to help Delores with her debut, but the diva thinks she deserves bigger and better help!  It takes a few opening night jitters to get Delores to truly appreciate her helpful little friend.

Links To Resources: Teacher Approved: Seven Things Kids Can Learn From Diva Delores; Opera Facts For Kids; discuss what it means to be a “diva” and dress up one of your stuffed animals as a diva!  (AND, you can use the 5 Fun Facts from the author below as bonus material to go along with the book! 🙂 )

Why I Like This Book:  The fun of this book is in the setting – an opera house – and the main characters – who both love opera!  Although the story is really about friendship, manners, and appreciation, the fact that it takes place in an opera house and involves operatic performance makes it educational as well as original and fun.  (Picture books writers – this is how you make a theme like friendship original, fresh and fun by putting your own twist on it!  Add this to your mentor text list 🙂 )  The story is told in fabulously-written rhyme which makes for a fun read-aloud, and artist Rebecca Gerlings does a gorgeous job of capturing both the feel of an opera house and the personalities and expressions of our heroes 🙂

I hope you enjoy it as much as I do 🙂

As an added bonus, I thought it would be fun to learn a little about the story behind the story and Laura’s writing process/path to publication with this book, so I asked her to share five fun facts about writing this delightful, creative, and original story.

Here’s what she had to say:


FACT #1 The journey from spark to publication took seven years.

I got the original idea for my story while participating in Tara Lazar’s wonderful STORYSTORM challenge, or Picture Book Idea Month as it was called back in 2011.  I then worked on the story off and on for five years. I played with plot, rhyme, character development – everything but setting, really – until finally it was ready to sub in 2016. It was acquired by Sterling Children’s Books that spring and took another two years to be published, which is typical for picture books.

FACT #2  Diva Delores wasn’t always a seal.

Originally, I imagined everyone at the opera house, including Diva Delores, as human, except of course, for Fernando the mouse. The team at Sterling , however, felt that mixing humans with a talking mouse might be problematic so early on we decided that all the characters in the opera house world would be animals. Early ideas for Delores included a hippo and an ostrich. Ultimately, illustrator Rebecca Gerlings used her wonderful talent and imagination to create the delightful seal Delores who we now know and LOVE!

FACT #3 I chose an opera house setting, because an opera, IMHO, is a lot like a picture book.

Both tell a full story in very few words with magnificent characters. Because there are so few words each word/note must work charmingly to move the story forward. Finally, both are gorgeously illustrated – one with stunning sets and props and the other with delightful painted spreads.

FACT # 4 I didn’t attend my first opera until I was in college.

I attended university about 90 minutes from Manhattan and my freshman year signed up for a special bus-excursion field trip to the Met to see TURANDOT!  I loved everything about the evening.  It was a magical introduction to opera, which I hope my book is too.

FACT #5 According to my kids, I am hard to be around when I am working on a rhyming manuscript.

This is because I click and tap to the beat as I write. I also, apparently, talk to myself in rhyme as I am writing. Worse yet, I sometimes even do this in public places, like if I’m out walking the dog or if I’m working at a coffee shop. This is mortifying to my children, but it works for me. And isn’t part of a mother’s job to embarrass her children?

Thanks for having me, Susanna!

Thank YOU so much for joining us, Laura, and for sharing all that interesting back story!  I am the first to admit that, although I love music, I know absolutely nothing about opera, so I love the whole concept!  (Also, Delores and Fernando are darling 🙂 )

Diva 2
BIO:  Laura Sassi has a passion for telling humorous stories in prose and rhyme. She is the author of GOODNIGHT, ARK (Zonderkidz, 2014)and GOODNIGHT, MANGER (Zonderkidz, 2015), DIVA DELORES AND THE OPERA HOUSE MOUSE (Sterling, 2018) and LOVE IS KIND (Zonderkidz, 2018) She lives in New Jersey with her husband, two children, and a black Cockapoo named Sophie.


To join Laura on the rest of Delores’s Blog Tour, please stop off and visit these other fabulous blogs:

Diva 3

For the complete list of books with resources, please visit Perfect Picture Books.

PPBF folks, please add your titles and post-specific links (and any other info you feel like filling out 🙂 ) to the form below so we can all come see what fabulous picture books you’ve chosen to share this week!

Don’t forget, Sterling has offered to do a giveaway. They will send one book to one lucky winner in the US or Canada. It will not be signed because they are sending but it will be fresh off the press!  Just leave a comment below by Tuesday March 20 at 5 PM Eastern to get yourself in the running for the random drawing!

Have a wonderful weekend, everyone!!! 🙂


69 thoughts on “Perfect Picture Book Friday – Diva Delores And The Opera House Mouse PLUS 5 Fun Facts From The Author AND A Giveaway!

  1. Leslie Leibhardt Goodman - Writer says:

    The opening of this book has won me over (and so has the cover illustration). I can already picture this beautiful book on my shelf of favorites. Fact #5 is one of my favorites above. Yes, I agree that embarrassing our children is part of a mother’s job.

  2. fspoesy says:

    You had me at “opera”! I couldn’t agree more with Laura about the connection between opera and picture books. I hope one day to write a picture book involving opera. I have a couple of ideas and Laura’s description of how opera and picture books are alike has reignited my imagination for those ideas! I can’t wait to read the book.

  3. Gail Hedrick says:

    Am a devoted fan of Laura’s books-but this one gave me pause when I first heard about it. Not an opera fan, and I just didn’t ‘get it’. Thank you, Susanna, for this wonderful post, and the photos of these adorable characters. Now, I’m all in, and can’t wait to get my hands on a copy. Great for all of us to spread our wings, or um, flippers a bit, yes?!

  4. Patricia Tilton says:

    I love the book already. I am a huge opera fan and attend about six operas a year. So, I am thrilled to see a book that is set in an opera house with an opera diva. Rhyme is definitely the right choice for this story. Liked Laura’s comment about how operas and PB are alike. Can’t wait to read it. And love how she embarrasses her children with her tapping.

  5. Wendy says:

    That was an extra-special Friday post for sure! Thank you, Laura and Susanna. I saw my first opera in England. Luckily, there was a ticker-tape style banner with an English translation from the Latin. Powerful stuff!

  6. Heather Kinser says:

    I want to read Laura’s book and use it as a mentor text. I loved hearing about her process. Yes, please, add me to the raffle!

  7. Danielle Hammelef says:

    I’ve never read a picture book set in an opera house before. The message and theme of this book is my favorite.

  8. Rachel Tomlinson says:

    Unfortunately I am outside the US, so am
    Not in the running for the prize…. but I just wanted to stop by and say firstly congratulations!!!! And secondly, I love the backstory and your inspiration. I think this would be a lovely story to read!

  9. Trine Grillo says:

    I feel like Delores is a dear friend because I am honored to be one of Laura’s critique partners and a pre-reader of this book.
    Thank you Susanna for the great post!

  10. marty says:

    I love Laura’s comparison of opera to picture books. This had never occurred to me, but it is certainly true! An engaging premise and as Susanna states, a masterful twist on a friendship theme. Congrats, Laura!

  11. Diana Murray (@DianaMWrites) says:

    Hooray for Diva and Mouse!! This story is so charming and delightful, it’s wonderful to see it out in the wild! I love that they made Diva a seal, especially because seals are super loud. And that glitter on the cover!!! Love your story about talking to yourself when you write. 🙂 So funny. I’m guilty, too.

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